Black Is the New Black

Perahps it’s the recent Martin Luther King Day holiday (about which more some other time). As I was crusing around the blogosphere this morning I noticed several posts and articles with what seems to be a common theme: attitudes of and towards black Americans. The first piece, by Walter Russell Mead continues his theme of the death of what he calls the “blue model”:

The collapse of the blue social model, a shift from federal to local power and a shift from government to the private sector are not race-neutral topics. It’s not just the underclass in the inner cities who face problems as the old models of subsidy and support become less sustainable; middle class African Americans compared to whites tend to work disproportionately in public sector jobs or in private sector jobs like health care that are heavily subsidized by government transfers. A pension crisis for state or federal workers will hit African-American families harder, proportionately, than white ones; municipal layoffs and bankruptcies will have a disproportionate effect on both the African-Americans who depend on these services and those who are paid to provide them.

Black Americans have been faithful clients of the Democratic Party for nearly 80 years now and today they roughly a third of all Democrats and by far the most faithful. And least demanding. By my count of the 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives 40 are black. Shouldn’t it be sixty or more? All three of the post-Reconstruction Democratic senators who have been of black African descent have been from Illinois. Blacks comprise 17.5% of the federal civil service, somewhat higher than their proportion in the general population (roughly an eighth). I wonder what proportion they comprise of Democrats in the federal civil service?

There’s also an article in the Wall Street Journal, a commentary on the African-American economist Walter Williams’s autobiography. Here’s a snippet:

“We lived in the Richard Allen housing projects” in Philadelphia, says Mr. Williams. “My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. But we were the only kids who didn’t have a mother and father in the house. These were poor black people and a few whites living in a housing project, and it was unusual not to have a mother and father in the house. Today, in the same projects, it would be rare to have a mother and father in the house.”

Even in the antebellum era, when slaves often weren’t permitted to wed, most black children lived with a biological mother and father. During Reconstruction and up until the 1940s, 75% to 85% of black children lived in two-parent families. Today, more than 70% of black children are born to single women. “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do,” Mr. Williams says. “And that is to destroy the black family.”

Read the whole thing.

Finally, James Taranto takes Rick Santorum to task for a nonsensical remark:

We agree that it is intellectually defensible to draw a parallel between the antiabortion movement and the civil rights movement, or between abortion and slavery–though we would also note that this is an inflammatory and highly controversial comparison. Making the argument in a way that persuades rather than alienates those who are not already convinced requires an extraordinarily high degree of subtlety and sensitivity. In this regard Santorum’s comment falls very far short.

What makes it racially invidious is not the underlying argument or the rhetorical inelegance with which Santorum makes it. It is the implication that because Obama is “a black man,” he is obliged to agree with Santorum.

1 comment… add one
  • michael reynolds

    The Mead piece is very interesting reading. I’ve only read him in bits and pieces but this made me think it’s worth a bookmark. It was a good and fair analysis. Something almost unknown on the internets outside of this blog.

    He did a good job of avoiding the problem of the blind men and the elephant, each describing the elephant in terms of his own limited knowledge. He sees the elephant. I was particularly struck by the point about African-Americans running to the gravy train just as it runs out of steam.

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